Review–Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

life in the ocean

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola

This picture book biography of biologist and oceanographer Sylvia Earle pays homage not only to her life’s work but to the incredible ecosystem of the oceans as well.  Sylvia was a biologist even as a child, sitting by the pond at their rural home in New Jersey and observing.  When Sylvia was 12, her family moved to Florida where their home was right near the Gulf of Mexico.  Sylvia started going to swims with her goggles on and watching these new creatures so different from the pond life in New Jersey.  As Sylvia grew older she ventured deeper and deeper into the ocean, meeting whales, spending 2 weeks in a deep-sea station, and walking the ocean floor in a Jim suit.  Sylvia Earle through her life and actions asks us to venture into the ocean too, spend time underwater, and explore beyond the 5% of the ocean humans have so far discovered.

Nivola’s text in this picture book can seem dense at first glance, but it is necessary to paint the picture of this ground-breaking (or ocean-breaking) woman.  The text reads aloud beautifully, flowing forward as it gives the small details that build to a life’s work.  It is a life spent outdoors, often alone, learning.  If you are looking for a picture book to inspire more exploration outside, this is definitely one. 

The illustrations in the book have a fine line to them, the pages filled with different blue hues as the water changes depth.  The ballet moves of the whales, the dazzle of bioluminescent creatures, and the colorful coral reefs all add to the range of the pictures.  Plenty of blue space is given to just water, allowing us to hold our collective breaths with hers and visit the depths too.

A brilliant picture book biography, this book is a winning nonfiction title for elementary students.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

For more information on Sylvia Earle, you can watch her TEDPrize winning talk or visit Mission Blue, a gorgeous website for the Sylvia Earle Alliance.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar Straus Giroux.

Review – Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick


Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

Peter has always loved baseball and excelled at it.  About to start high school, he looks forward to being a pitching star and playing alongside his best friend AJ.  But when he ignores the pain in his arm and continues to pitch, disaster happens and he is told he can no longer pitch, ever.  Peter’s mother talks him into taking a photography class in school, inspired by his grandfather who is a well-known photographer in their community and whom Peter loves to spend time with.  Peter reluctantly agrees, but the class is too easy and he is moved to an advanced photography class along with another freshman, a beguiling girl, Angelika.  As their relationship starts thanks to photography, Peter notices that his grandfather is starting to forget things.  Peter keeps the truth about his grandfather from his parents, just as he doesn’t tell the whole truth about his arm to his best friend.  How long can he balance the lies he’s been spinning before they all fall?

Sonnenblick has created a book that is smart and charming.  He effortlessly blends the worlds of sports and photography, plus a dash of strong romance too.  Peter is a great character: a jock who is bright, funny and endearingly unsure.  A great sense of humor runs through the book as well, making the book a fast read despite the heavier issues at its heart.  The book grapples mightily with truth telling and relationships.  Readers get to see just enough of the grandfather before he starts to lose his memory to understand just how strong the relationship between the two of them is.  Though there are many issues at hand in the book, they are all balanced on strong storytelling and vivid characters.

With its blend of topics this book should appeal to many readers, get it in the hands of teens who enjoy John Green and are looking for more smart, funny books.  Appropriate for ages 14-16.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic Press.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts that you might find interesting:

5 book-to-screen adaptations hoping for ‘Hunger Games’ level of success | Tulsa World #yalit

Anita Silvey discusses her Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac | ScrippsNews #kidlit

Anthony Horowitz’s 6 favorite books for teens – The Week #yalit

The BEAN: Announcing the BEA 2012 Editors Buzz Line Up with teen and middle grade titles as well as adult

‘The Big Book of Words and Pictures’ and ‘Picture My Day’ in the NYT #kidlit

Bringing Up a Young Reader on E-Books – #ebooks #reading

Could Vampire Academy Be The Next Hunger Games? #yalit

Cut the pressure and let children enjoy reading | Independent Arts #kidlit #reading

EarlyWord » MORTAL INSTRUMENTS Movie Given Release Date – #yalit

Hunger Games: Confronting Violence in Tween Books : Discovery News #yalit

Hunger Games Official Page has a Book Finder to help you find more great YA reads #yalit

Movies are making us (and our kids) read #yalit

Nicola Morgan’s top 10 present tense books | #yalit

The Power of Young Adult Fiction – Room for Debate – #yalit


Study: Reading For Pleasure Makes Your Brain Grow (Literally) | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… #reading